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Madame de Stael's " L'Allemagne " is often
compared to the " Germany" of Tacitus. The
comparison would be more just as regards
the sixth part alone. It is England which is
Madame de Stael's true Utopia. "Admirable
monument of the moral grandeur of man ! . . .
No people in Europe can be put on a parallel
with the English since 1688; there are one
hundred and twenty years of social improve-
ment between them and the continent." The
author's incursions into the past of England
present the same uncertainties as her incursions
into the past of France. Her pictures and
characters of contemporary England are much
idealized. Corinne with all her visions, the
always inconsolable betrothed of the illusory
Nelvil, is the painter of them ! But what
sound thought when the author comes to earth
again, and what admirable lessons of history,
what noble teachings of poHtical morals, in her
address to the French people ! Let them take
courage, she says to them, for themselves and
their revolution; let them, above all things,
never declare themselves incapable of liberty.
This was said to the English at a similar time,



" Considerations r 235

when they were achieving their freedom.
Consider the EngHsh of yesterday, and you
will recognize the French of to-day. We
must constantly bear in mind the fanaticism,
the disorders, the atrocities of the revolutions
in England. '* They deposed, killed, over-
turned more kings, princes, and governments
than all the rest of Europe together. ... In
the early history of this people there is more
violence, more inequality, and in some respects
more of a spirit of servility than among the
French." And yet they reached the land of
promise. " It is a beautiful sight, — this consti-
tution, vacillating a little as it sets out from the
port, hke a vessel launched to sea, yet unfurl-
ing its sails and giving full play to everything
great and generous in the human soul."

To this promised land all the peoples of the
earth are called ; and all, sooner or later, will
reach it. The author invites them thither ; and
it is with a wish for the independence of all
nations that this warm apology of free govern-
ment concludes. There are some pages of
great perspective in it, and these are the politi-
cal testament of Madame de Stael. The future
belongs to the nations, and the progress of
civilization should sanction their independence.
It 'is contrary to nature that one nation should
be subject to another. The Revolution



o



6 Madame de StdeL



throughout Europe will be accomplished by
and for the nations. It will take a national
form, and under this form it will prevail
against all men. It is the imperative course of
history. " Nothing durable can be accom-
plished except by the universal impulsion. . . .
Anything is better than to lose the name of
nation." Madame de Stael foresaw the na-
tional future of the Russians; she announced
the supremacy of North America ; she hoped
for the Germans and the Italians the chance
to constitute themselves into federations. She
foresaw that between these nations, aroused
and gathered together, there would necessarily
be conflict ; she apprehended even then the con-
flict between the "Germans and the Esclavons,"
as she calls the Slavs ; but she relies upon this
maxim inscribed in the book on '' Germany,"
and which supphes the temperament neces-
sary to every enterprise of national ambition
contrary to the rights of nations : '' When a
nation admits within her borders as subjects
strangers who are enemies, she does herself
almost as much harm as when she receives
them as masters; for then there is no longer
in the body poHtic that unity which personifies
the State and constitutes patriotism."



CHAPTER IX.

Her Influence. — Posterity in Politics,
History, and Literature.

IN her writings Madame de Stael was espe-
cially anxious to be a guide and leader.
She succeeded. Few writers have exercised,
in so many different directions, so lasting an
influence. This influence has been more effi-
cacious and more recognized since the death
of Madame de Stael than during her lifetime.
The reason is that the intrigues of her salon
compromised the sincerity of her expressions,
and the intemperance of her language thwarted
the effect of her writings. One may say of her
whole life and of the fate accorded to her
works what Chateaubriand said of her early
years, her years of trial and of passion : " Ac-
cording as her youth weighed less on her life,
her thought emerged from its chrysalis and
put on immortality."

She has had the rare privilege of a double
posterity, if I may so express it, each equally
glorious. She has founded a dynasty ; and few
houses, even among the most illustrious, offer



238 Madame de StdeL

such a succession of original talents. But her
descendants are not, properly speaking, her
disciples ; and If one would follow her direct
Inspiration, It Is in another posterity, purely
intellectual, that he must seek it. This inspi-
ration appeared, clearly defined, In politics,
history, and literature.

The Restoration opened the political world
to Madame de Stael. Her friends form a
group whose right rests upon Mathieu de
Montmorency, the left upon SIsmondi, and the
centre on Camille Jordan. Benjamin hovers
on the outskirts of the parties, hostile to all
and Impatient for a place where he would
never be able to remain. To this group of
friends must be added the men who received
their impulse at a greater distance, who never-
theless feel it distinctly: the Due Victor de
Broglie, who will retain to the end, with all his
firmness of character, the generous glow of
heart ; Serre, the man who never put the least
soul into his politics, — his campaign of 1819,
the heroic epoch for the Constitutional Mon-
archy, was animated entirely by the spirit of
Madame de Stael; she seemed resuscitated
for it. Then comes the liberal progeny of the
Restoration, the followers of " La Doctrine "
and the *' Globe," — politicians, literary men,
orators of the academy and the tribune, more



Posterity in Politics. 239

eloquent than active, and more excellent in
opposition than they will be in government.
They all proceed from Necker, they have all
had Royer-Collard for preceptor, and Madame
de Stael is their muse. The greatest among
them — their representative in history, if not the
head of their line — is he who at the same time
best interprets the political spirit of Madame
de Stael in this liberal opposition of the Res-
toration, — Guizot. A man of the salon, a man
of science, a speaker of incomparable brilliancy;
kindliness itself with his friends, but at first
haughty to others ; passionate beneath a Cal-
vinist exterior, — he is Necker lifted above
himself, the combination of a great minister of
public instruction, a diplomat of large scope,
an orator without a rival, and one of the first
historians of the age. In him Madame de Stael
goes on as far as the Revolution of 1830.
Then the fallacy of a change of dynasty re-
appears, and the preconceived analogy with
the English Revolution of 1688, which has de-
ceived as many Constitutionalists as the legend
of Monk has deceived Royalists. The Cabinet
of October, 1832, which united Guizot and the
Due de Broghe, perpetuates the political suc-
cession of Madame de Stael; but her reign
stops there.

A little later she would not have recognized



240 Madame de Stdel.

herself save among certain opponents, — by the
side of Lamartine, for example. It is a turning-
point in history. The spirit of 1789 is vanish-
ing. The new whispers that are heard come
from other quarters of the Revolution : it is
the democracy that is invading; it is socialism
that is rising; it is Caesarism which, like a
baleful judgment, follows in the train. It is
the era of De Tocqueville's " Democracy in
America" (1839), of the trial of the Saint-
Simoniens, of anarchist plots, of apologies of
the Reign of Terror, of the '' Idees Napoleoni-
ennes " of Louis Napoleon (1838), of the
return of the ashes of the first Napoleon
(1840), of the imperial odes of Victor Hugo
(1835-1840), — '' La Colonne," " L'Arc de
Triomphe," " Mil huit cent onze," '' A Laure,
Duchesse d'A."

" I guard the treasure of the glories of the Empire ;
I have never suffered another to touch it." ^

The influence of Madame de Stael on the
French historical school goes far beyond anal-
ogous phases. One may prove it in every line
of the learned Droz's history of Louis XVI.;
but here, again, the disciple in the truest sense
who takes up, enlarges, and finishes the work,
is Guizot. It is impossible not to see in the

1 "Je garde le tresor des gloires de I'Empire;
Je n'ai jamais souffert qu'un osat y toucher."



Posterity in History, 241

"Essays on the History of France" (1823) the
living impress of the last writings of Madame
de Stael. Guizot here brings out with all
their first causes and complexities the inter-
mittent crises of liberty in France, which
Madame de Stael guessed at dimly, simplified
too much, and laid too directly to the charge
of the representative government. Guizot's
''History of Civilization" (1828-1829) is
largely inspired by the '* Considerations : " it is
civilization conceived of as the constant pro-
gress of justice in society and the State; the
exterior conditions of human life ameliorated,
the inward man rendered more intelligent and
more moral. Lastly, the " History of the Eng-
lish Revolution," and the thoughtful discourse
which precedes it (i 827-1 828), a history in
which philosophy is mingled with narrative, is
built on the plan of the " Considerations." The
kinship is revealed even in the incidentals.
It is from Madame de Stael that Guizot bor-
rowed the idea of that noble discourse which
he entitles *' Love in Marriage."

I would ascribe to the same influence, though
in less degree, the '' Historical Essays " on
England by Charles de Remusat, who, while
he made his literary debut in a dithyrambic arti-^
cle on the " Considerations," is rather more
enthusiastic for Madame de Stael's genius than
16



242 Madame de StdeL

inspired by it. The fundamental conception
of the '' Considerations " gives way before the
new school of revolutionary historians, — those
who aim to isolate the French Revolution in
French history, and make of it, not a series of
events, but a series of symbols, a quasi-revela-
tion which had its prophets and precursors,
but which is without historical precedents.
De Tocqueville's work on " The Old Regime "
restores Madame de Stael's design to its hon-
ored place; it renews the ties between Mon-
tesquieu and the past of France. Something
analogous happens in the history of the Em-
pire. The marvellous chronicle of M. Thiers
(1845) rehabilitates the times stigmatized by
the " Ten Years of Exile." Lanfrey, who is
otherwise aUied to Madame de Stael through
Rousseau, undertakes this history, and brings
back to the annals of the Napoleonic epoch
the spirit of the "Considerations" (1867).
With Lanfrey, Madame de Stael attains the
limit of her influence upon the historians.

Her literary influence, while very extended,
does not reach so far. The book on '* Ger-
many" was at its first appearance, and con-
tinued for a long time to be, an event. It
revealed to the great European public one
form of the modern genius. '^ It was," says
Goethe, *' like a powerful battering-ram open-



Posterity in Literature. 243

ing a great breach in the Chinese Wall of old
prejudices raised between us and France.
This book made them wish to know us be-
yond the Rhine and beyond the Channel, and
we have gained by it the means of exercising
a lively influence in the far Occident. Let us
therefore bless the disturbance caused by her
stay among us, and the conflict of national
originalities which at that time seemed to us
vain and importunate."

It was not alone a taste for German litera-
ture, but a taste for all foreign literatures, which
this book introduced into France. It is proper
to ascribe to it the great work of literary diffu-
sion and translation which reunited the friends
and disciples of Madame de Stael, — Fauriel,
Prosper de Barante, the translator of Schiller,
and Guizot, who made the translation of Shak-
speare possible. The influence of German
thought upon French thought since 1820 has
been considerable. Among those who then
received, submitted to, or communicated this
influence, there is no one who does not trace
it more or less directly to Madame de Stael.
The first impulse was hers, and we can dis-
cover it even in the men who in other direc-
tions are farthest removed from her, — Quinet,
for example, and Michelet. We follow it
nearer in Nodier ; we trace it afar in Hugo,



244 Madame de Stdel.

in his preface to '' Cromwell " and in his
dramas. It is to be found widely dispersed
among the hosts of fantastic ballads, the effu-
sions and reveries of romanticism ; the artificial
evocations of a Germany of conventionalities
which speedily filled French literature, and
from literature passed to the studios and
concert-rooms. Victor Hugo's ** Rhin," De
Musset's " Tyrol," '' La Coupe et ses Levres,"
— to quote haphazard ; then Mignon, Mar.
guerite, and Mephisto, from Delacroix to
Gounod, from Johannot and Scheffer to Ber-
lioz, — all proceed in direct Hne from this book,
one of the most suggestive that was ever writ-
ten. We cannot separate from it even the
brilliant and fecund school of travellers and
critics who follow in the wake and lengthen
the furrow as they plough it ; as, for example,
J. J. Ampere, Gerard de Nerval, and Saint-
Rene Taillandier. I mention only the dead.
These however describe a Germany quite dif-
ferent from that of 1810, and while following
the path of Madame de Stael, they note the
point beyond which her views did not extend.
The *' Germany " of Madame de Stael is,
they say, a chimera, and they reproach the au-
thor with having deceived the French. No
one has brought forward this reproach with
more spirit than a German, Heinrich Heine, —



Posterity in Literature, 245

a bad German, say his compatriots, who turn
their backs upon him in spite of his poetic
genius; but certainly a bad Frenchman, and
very unfaithful to those among us who believed
him to be one of us because he, like Frederick
before him, would make sport of us with our
own words. His " Germany " is the counter-
part and the biting criticism of that of Madame
de Stael. " You have," he says to her, " ad-
mired the flowers of which you know neither
the roots nor the symbolic language." He
adds, she heard nothing but the dithyrambs
of a romantic company; she observed nothing
but the windows of the palace at Weimar
through the embroidered curtains, from be-
hind a fan, while listening to the bright wits
of the court. She did not distinguish in the
literature the rubbish and romantic bric-a-
brac ; in the customs, the pietistic hypocrisy ;
in the political world, the corruption and in-
trigue ; in the people, the rancor, lust, and
brutality that hide themselves beneath a show
of good-nature and servility. She could not
see rising from the metaphysical chaos the
State-god of Hegel, — a monster, more vora-
cious, more crushing, more destructive to
human liberties than the State-man of Louis
XIV. and Napoleon. She did not foresee the
horrible aridity which the philosophy of Kant



246 Madame de StdeL

would lay upon the souls of men, — the nihilism
of his ideal, the disorder of unbridled reason,
the furious invasion of the transcendent egOy
the social revolution it involves, the philosoph-
ical terror which would be its outcome, and
beside which the visible terror of Robespierre
would be merely a clown's amusement. ** You
have more to fear," says Heine to the French
people, " from Germany delivered than from
the Holy Alliance altogether, with all its Croats
and Cossacks." Heine wrote these lines in
1839. The Germany that he announced bud-
ded in 1840 and burst in 1848.

How blind was Madame de Stael not to
have discerned it thirty years earlier ! If she
was deceived, Heine rectified her, and very
vigorously too. But the Germany which
Heine, after her and as a contradiction,
revealed to France, left more illusions and
made more dupes than Madame de Stael's
ever ventured to do. Heine, in spite of his
reiterated reserves, aroused in many minds
the dream of a revolutionary and republican
Germany whose first act of faith should be, in
recognition of the baptism of the Rights of
Man, to offer to France the left bank of the
Rhine. Another Germany, one that may be
seen between the lines of Stendhal, as observed
from a supply-wagon by one of Napoleon's



Posterity in Literature, 247

commissaries, gives the impression of a peo-
ple made up of '' big blond men of indo-
lent habit," pusillanimous, obsequious, smokers,
musicians, inn-keepers, and tax-payers, — an
impression far more deceptive by reason of
its air of personal observation and actual view
of things. Madame de Stael foresaw the Ger-
many of 181 3; that Germany contained even
then the sap of the Germany which awoke in
1840, arose in 1870, and marched to battle
singing the popular Licder^ "" Der Gute Ka-
raerad " and " Die Wacht am Rhein." That
Germany was and is, let us not be mistaken,
the hidden force which the machine of the
Prussian State employs and puts in motion.
We were astonished in 1870 to find Bliicher's
old soldiers mingled with the mystic worship-
pers of Wagner, the ingenious disciples of
Schopenhauer, the learned, the thinkers, the
savaiitSy poets, artists; and to see, in a war
which aroused a whole armed nation, the
fierce, the lustful, and the brutal qualities pre-
vail. It is as frivolous and as unjust to re-
proach Madame de Stael for that, as it would
be to dispute the genius of Tolstoi and the
beautiful revelations of M. de Vogiie, in case
of a Russian invasion of Europe, because we
found among them Souvarof s terrible hordes
and the fierce conquerors of 18 12, as well as



248 Madame de StdeL

the tormented seekers after the ideal, and pil-
grims from a far country.

" Corinne " in turn helped to restore Italy
in her own eyes and before the world. It
drew aside the veil that had heretofore
shrouded this land and nation in mystery, and
promulgated throughout Europe a thought
which became a political dogma : " The Ital-
ians are far more remarkable for what they
have been and for what they might be than for
what they are at present." Madame de Stael
initiated the Italians into romanticism. Silvio
Pellico was evidently inspired by her ; in fact,
she merited the opinion of an Italian who said :
'' She foresaw the Italy of the future ; she was
the precursor of a new order of things ; she
showed herself to be a prophetess, and she
anticipated, by apprehension, all that others
have said since then without giving her due
credit for it."

In French literature we perceive Madame de
Stael at the very start of the whole generation
that follows. Sainte-Beuve, devoting one of
his last articles to her in 1868, said: " She was
one of the cults of my youth, and one that I
have never abjured. . . . She contributed," he
adds, " along with Chateaubriand and after
Jean Jacques and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, to
arouse in our souls the Hking for the marvel-



Posterity in Literature. 249

lous and the infinite." She did this, indeed, but
she had no hope of succeeding. She proposed
for the inspiration of the poetry of the future :
"The enigma of human destiny; the contem-
plative habit. . . . The soHtude of the forests,
the Hmitless horizons, the starry heavens, . . .
the eternal and the infinite which fill the soul
of Christians." But she did not imagine that
French poetry was adapted to this inspiration.
" Our versification," she said, " is opposed to
any abandonment of enthusiasm." She had
not been three years dead ere the poet she
hailed appeared before the world and borrowed
from her not only inspiration but even the
very title of one of his poems, — " Les
Receuillements."

Lamartine fulfilled Madame de Stael's ideas
in poetry as Guizot did in history. In 181 1
he followed the footsteps of Corinne and
Nelvil through Italy. He had devoured the
works on " Germany " and " The Passions."
He execrated the Empire, he cursed Napoleon
as '* the infernal genius raised up to degrade a
whole generation and to uproot the entire
national enthusiasm ! " Madame de Stael was
his liberator. '' A sublime judge, tender and
large-hearted ; a woman, adorable and compas-
sionate." He acknowledges her in one of his
first Meditations, dated 1820,—



250 Madame de StdeL

" But my soul, O Coppet, flies back to thy shores ! " ^

He pays her, in a certain way, the homage
of his work in his discourse on the " Destinees
de la Poesie " in 1834. Take all his verses on
Italy, the Meditations on the Coliseum, on hu-
manity, on immortality; read the apostrophes
in the '' Pelerinage d'Harold," and you will
find there, put into rhyme and harmony by
the genius of the musician, all the songful
strains of Corinne and Nelvil. The heroine of
"Jocelyn" is a daughter of Delphine, more
exalted and ardent; we recognize these cries
of the abandoned Dido whose echoes still haunt
Coppet: —

" Her thrilling voice re-echoed through the grotto's
sounding aisles :

' Jocelyn ! Jocelyn !
Oh, come, restore me to your open arms, before their

eyes,
To that dear refuge where my heart the universe
defies.' "2

The formidable invective upon Bonaparte
seems to leap like a latent flame from the work
on " Considerations," — " He regards a human

1 " Mais mon ame, 6 Coppet, s'envole vers tes rives ! "

2 " Sa voix d'airain vibrait dans la grotte ebranlee:

' Jocelyn ! Jocelyn !
Viens me rendre a leurs yeux, dans tes bras entr*ouverts.
Get asile ou mon cceur braverait TUnivers.' "



Posterity in Literature. 251

being as a fact or thing, but not as a fellow-
creature. He hates no more than he loves.
His strength of will consists in the impertur-
bable calculation of his egotism. . . . No
spark of enthusiasm mingled with his desire
to astound the human race. ..."

Throw this thought into the soul of the
poet, and you have it pictured in magnifi-
cent coloring : —

" Without joy thou didst ascend, without murmur thou

didst fail ;
Nothing human beat beneath thine impervious coat of

mail :
Without hate as without love, thou livedst only in the

mind ;
Like the lordly eagle reigning in the heavens soHtary
Thou surveyedst the earth beneath thee but to gauge

an adversary,
And in thy claws another prey to find.^

Madame de Stael would have applauded
Lamartine's discourses of 1840. She would
have disavowed the " History of the Giron-
dists." I imagine that there were many ro-
mances and novels which had their origin in her

1 " Tu grandis sans plaisir, tu tombas sans murmure,
Rien d'humain ne battait sous ton epaisse armure :
Sans haine et sans amour, tu vivais pour penser ;
Comme Taigle regnant dans un ciel solitaire,
Tu n'avais qu'un regard pour mesurer la terre, '

Et des serres pour I'embrasser."



252 Madame de Stdel.

own, — those by women particularly. In the
work and life of many women who have appar-
ently walked in her footsteps, there is an ele-
ment of moral insubordination and revolt, a
basis of restless discontent, a flavor of adven-
ture from over the borders of Bohemia, which
would have shocked and clashed with her own
womanly good sense and social experience.
Doubtless ** Mauprat " would have delighted
her. She would have recognized in Lelia and
Consuelo Corinne's own sisters. But I doubt
that she would have approved of Indiana and
Valentine, or would have liked the author even
had she admired her. I fancy that she would
have liked Daniel Stern better, and above all
would have sympathized with him, while ad-
miring him less. Delphine Gay with her artifi-
ciality and her career of counterfeit and plagia-
rism, would have been intolerable to her. Some
of Balzac's women, as Camille Maupin and
Madame de Mortsauf, would have touched
her. She would have enjoyed the '* Memoirs
of a Young Married Couple," and would have
thought that Louise de Chauheu understood
le gi'and amoitr when she wrote to her friend :
" Oh ! how I should have loved Napoleon, and
how I should have made him feel, had he loved
me, that he was at my mercy ! "

Balzac derived inspiration from Madame de



Posterity in Literature, 253

Stael's chronicles, and made use of her works,
especially of *' The Passions," in devising the


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